Omicron instances: India’s seafood export unlikely to meet $7.8 billion target
India’s seafood exports are unlikely to meet the $7.8 billion target set for 2021-22, as growing Omicron instances have caused a business slowdown in Europe and the UK markets, among other challenges that have exporters on edge.
The Chinese scenario is deteriorating, as the country continues to suspend Indian plants owing to the reported presence of Covid nucleic acid on seafood packing materials. According to industry sources, this has caused exporters to be hesitant to ship to China, which is a good market for Indian marine items.
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‘We continue to have challenges with the Chinese market. We are now concerned about the EU markets as a result of the Omicron breakout. Due to container shortages and late vessel calls, we were unable to commit to deliveries for the Christmas and New Year sales,’ Alex K Ninan, President of the Seafood Exporters Association of India-Kerala area, told.
As per industry sources, global limitations and lockdowns due to Covid, a multi-fold increase in freight prices, and a paucity of air cargo flights are some of the issues encountered by the sector, adding to shippers’ worries.
Despite Covid and logistics issues, officials from the Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA) stated that 69% of the $5.3 billion export target has been met as of November 2021. Balance exports of $2.4 billion are expected to be completed by March of this year.
Exporters have been advised to avoid Covid contamination. Task groups have been formed, and units are being examined to verify that Covid protocols are followed. According to the sources, the government developed guidelines for the fish industry and provided thorough training to exporters.
Ninan stated that there is a lack of sufficient catch from the waters as a result of climatic changes. Furthermore, rising diesel prices have prompted trawling boat operators to abandon fishing. As a result, various export-oriented types, such as shrimp, cuttlefish, squid, octopus, and a range of other fishes, are in short supply in fish landing centres. In general, the West Coast, particularly Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, where sea capture is higher, has been severely impacted.
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The East Coast is mostly dependent on aquaculture, but farmers were hesitant to seed for the next crop last year due to a drop in international demand caused by the virus. As a result, the sector anticipates lesser material availability in the next seasons, he noted.
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In the midst of the epidemic, there is a light of hope from the Gulf markets, which reported a 20% increase between April and December. According to industry sources, shipments to West Asia increased by 54% compared to the objective of $41.3 crore in 2021-22.